Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We Must Sing Australia

Thirty Effing Days.

And I thought the activist had had the stuffing knocked out of me. Well here goes…

Australian fans at this World Cup shoulder an enormous responsibility, and I'm being more serious than usual. Certainly we have to provide a stout twelfth man for a team fighting uphill, and that is important enough. But we also have to show the World that we deserve to have the World Cup in 2018 or 2022. Business as usual, however distinctive and cool - I refer to the travelling Socceroos fans - won't be good enough. I think we need to make sure we impress anew. I think we have a direct opportunity to influence the World Cup Bid, and if we don't take it it would be shameful.

It's very pleasing to see around the blogs and media comments a sentiment against "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie… Oi, Oi, Oi!" It's a gross chant, and it makes us look like the bunch of yobs that we are. But at this stage, if we want to show the World we're more sophisticated, not screaming, "Oi, Oi, Oi!" would not do that - it would just show us cringing at ourselves. The Paul Hogan side of us is real and, let's face it, it's fun, so when it inevitably comes up (some dickhead will inevitably shout the "Aussie Aussie" bit (please don't), our "Oi, Oi, Oi!!" must be loud, distinct and tight - we have no choice but to try to improve our military precision for this one as there is no melody or complexity to work with. But the trick for us is to add something much, much better to our repertoire.

For a few years a friend and I have come back to a conversation occasionally about fan songs. He's an AFL fan but clearly this is good common territory, especially between those two codes. For a large crowd to sing a song, not just a chant or a ditty but to actually hold a melody and a learned section of lyrics, is glorious, perhaps one of the most powerful collective acts 20,000 people or so can pull off.

It's impossible not to admire, wishing the word 'awesome' had never lost its meaning, the massive crowds singing "You'll Never Walk Alone." This song stands king of the football songs. However unoriginal, even if the Australian fans could pull a damn good rendition of this, it would look good. But clearly that's not what we're after.

My friend likes "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions", both of which have been used well in Rugby League matches. They're rough, but they're songs the crowd can get behind, and lots of people know the words. Clearly, they also lack in originality, and they're not Australian.

I have the song we need. It's going to take a lot more than my effort, but it starts here. We can do something very sophisticated, very Australian and very, very beautiful. It is a bit of effort, but we are asking a lot of our team after all. This is something that we, the fans, can do, that really will make a difference, and show the World that Australia really is an extraordinary, richly cultured place, who love their soccer team like Romeo loves Juliet, no matter what.

I have changed the words just slightly to the last half of Hunters and Collectors' You Will Throw Your Arms Around Me. I think the whole thing is too cumbersome and ambitious, but it is a song of two halves, and the second half works well. The alterations are emboldened. They are there to direct the love song at our football team, but are subtle enough that it wouldn't matter if people sung the real words if they know them.

I dreamed of you at nighttime
And I watched you in my sleep
I saw you in high places
I watched your heads and watched your feet
So if you disappear out of view
You know that I will never say goodbye
And though I try to forget it
You will make me call your name
And I'll shout it to the blue summer sky...
And we may never meet again...
So spread your wings and let's get started
And you will throw your arms around me
Yeah, you will throw your arms around me

Now this is a love song with a strong melody. That is, it is ambitious. But it is not only possible - it is right there in front of us. All we have to do is disseminate the idea and learn the words. All of us. This is the football song - a deep love song to our team - which can challenge You Will Never Walk Alone. But I think it says much more. Fans of the Socceroos, check yourselves. We can make the Socceroos more brilliant with our own efforts.

Now my general point, which I think every thinking fan should agree with, is that we need to sing. So as well as the above we need a bit of a repertoire and we need to know it. So if you're going to the Cup (even if you're not you can help) learn the following as well, and practice them all, belt them out in the shower or in front of the mirror. Practice with your mates (have some guts you wimp!) Breathe deep and own the songs from your soul. We are going to war and preparation is everything.

These songs are all real parts of ourselves, and together say a lot. And it is our patriotic obligation to rock them out of their seats in Durban. We must.

Waltzing Matilda (This alone, if we could sing it together loudly and proudly, could almost do the trick, and we must use it, but it's not new).
Advance Australia Fair (Only before the game thanks, but it too says something of us that is real, and we must belt it out proudly rather than be ashamed of it.)
Land Down Under (Even if we save this for moments of victory - fingers crossed - we should be belting this out as a mass. Know the words!)
Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree (Belting this out would be wonderful irony, and would sound, with thousands singing it, deeply, powerfully Australian)

But Throw Your Arms Around Me is the song. This is the one with which we could bring the house down.

I warned you about the activist thing. But I'm serious. I may fail, but it is my endeavour, from this 30 day mark (a beautiful day incidentally) to promote this repertoire and this song to fans from now until the Cup. Please, please, if you get what I mean about the beauty of mass collective song, help me out.

On You Tube:

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Anonymous Geoff said...

You do realise how quiet our A-League games, for example, are once you've seen a game in the Premier League or Bundesliga, as well as plenty of other leagues I haven't experienced first-hand.

I propose Rose Tattoo's 'We Can't Be Beaten'. It doesn't even need any lyric modifications.

May 12, 2010 2:21 pm  
Anonymous Guido said...

That's sounds great! I have discussed about Australian chants in the Melbourne Victory forum for sometime, as there seems either a lack of imagination or somewhat a cultural cringe that only songs picked up on youtube from fans of overseas teams (that is Europe) are only worth of consideration.

If we want to show that football is as Australian as any other code I think we need to develop our own style of support instead of copying those overseas.

The issue is that as a whole, apart from a few committed active fans, are not into singing. The tradition of 'barracking' for your team as developed in other codes is to shout encouragement/abuse individually rather than a group.

Your version of 'Throw your arms around me' is fantastic and it would work well as an anthem.

I know it's corny, but 'We are Australians' can also work as a chant. I mean, if devoted fans can sing stuff from Broadway musicals (You'll never walk alone and I'm forever blowing bubbles) why not?

May 12, 2010 3:01 pm  
Anonymous Liam said...

Sign on, sign on,
With a pen in your hand
Cos you'll never get a job
You'll never get a job.

Sung by Man U fans to Scousers.

May 12, 2010 4:57 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

Thanks for the suggestions people. In honesty don't suppose there is enough time to develop the sort of full singing culture I'm envisioning before Durban, but I think it's a reasonable thing to advocate for its development in general. And if we can get a bit of singing going, even a rousing, "Waltzing Matilda", I think it helps us and the way we are viewed.

Is there a Socceroo fan forum where songs and such are being discussed?

May 13, 2010 9:56 am  
Blogger john said...

Before the last cup SBS ran a competition for a theme song but I think something went wrong and it petered out before the start.

May 15, 2010 3:21 pm  
Blogger Hamish said...

Interesting John. That's what would be required to get something going quickly - SBS or FFA to run some sort of campaign to encourage fans to learn songs.

Can't see it yet, so it's up to the grass roots to develop our Australian football culture the best we can.

May 17, 2010 8:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suggest "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS. Only once did I hear this sung at a Jets game this year and although 'The Squadron' was small they made a fair bit of noise.
People arm in arm, it was pretty awesome, and with 20,000 people singing, it can only be better. All we need is a drummer for the beat.

May 19, 2010 8:39 am  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

The show that John alludes to was called "Song for the Socceroos" and was hosted by Rockwiz's Julia Zemiro. It was a seven episode series and, because it was filmed locally, my wife, I and friends managed to get over for an episode.

It was a heap of fun, Dicko was one of the judges and I'm sure I managed to watch every episode as the excitment built up ahead of Germany..

Here's one song I found;

Glad to hear your football odessey is taking you to the WC Hamish - Enjoy it...

"Here come the Socceroos"

May 21, 2010 12:01 am  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

and here is the winning song, Green and Gold by Freedom of Thought.

"I want to jump and scream in a stadium full of Australians"

May 21, 2010 12:14 am  

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